How can I get better at stretching?
As we've mentioned before on this blog, the word stretching is not used correctly when discussing flexibility training.
Stretching is a type of exercise. You do stretching exercises to improve your flexibility.
So, how can you get better at stretching exercises? We have 4 easy suggestions. Read on!
Believe you can improve
We talk about this all the time, but it really is the most important part to improving. Your thoughts have a direct impact on your physiology. For example: when you feel very sad about something (your thoughts) you begin to cry (your physiology). Your thoughts lead to a physical reaction. Therefore thinking you aren't flexible or will never be flexible will cause your nervous system to respond in kind.
The body and mind act together. If you don't believe you can improve. You won't.
Now, we aren't saying that if you believe you can do the splits, you'll be able to slide down into a full split. But what we are suggesting, is you reframe your thoughts about stretching. Approach the class or routine with an open mind. Be open to the sensations you feel during a stretch. Know that the sensations you are feeling are beneficial and will lead to a healthier more flexible body. When you invite sensations instead of push them away, you'll be amazed at how the body transforms.
Make a plan
If you've ever tried to make a change in your life and failed to either get started or maintain It, it most probably wasn't written into your weekly schedule.
We aren't going to discourage you with the percentages of people who don't write their goals down or who schedule them into their routines. However, the ones that do are the ones that are the most successful.
Think about it, if you don't schedule time for stretching, you're leaving it up to chance. You might get to it if you remember. Or you'll get started when you're less busy...
The best way to improve stretching, is to make a decision that it is important and mark it in your calendar. Join a class 1-2 times a week, add it to your warmup and cool down workout session, hire a trainer or commit to 5-10 minutes a day. You get to decide your level of commitment.
Breathing slowly and calmly will help your nervous system and help activate the parasympathetic system.
We suggest breathing in through your nose and then either out through the nose or mouth.
Inhale: try to breathe towards the bottom of your lungs, and into the belly if possible. Your diaphragm will contract and flatten.
Exhale: slowly exhale the air either through your nose of mouth using your abdominal muscles to getting push the air out. You diaphragm will relax and lift.
Train your core
Having a strong core will allow the surrounding muscles to function correctly. A lot of people suffer from tight and stiff hips. This is partly due to weak core muscles. The core is meant to create stability while the hips are meant to be mobile. If the core is weak, then the hips will 'help out" by trying to help create stability. This leads to a feeling of tightness and stiffness of the joint.
You can think of training the core as part of your stretching routine. Which will help improve the efficacy of all the rest of your stretching exercises.
Of course there are many other ways to master stretching exercises, we've listed some of the ones we think are the most important.
If you make an effort, follow the suggestions above, and stick to it you'll see wonderful long lasting results!